If you’ve ever attended one of Dr. Bill Hoy’s seminars, you’ve inevitably heard about the importance of ceremony, how he attends every funeral he can, and why he thinks funerals are so important. Most of us are probably not as enthusiastic as Dr. Hoy when it comes to planning, much less attending a funeral.
Well, why do you think that is?
I’ll tell you what I think. I think it’s because the funeral profession has been doing funerals badly for a very long time. Think about it, go back to the last funeral you attended – was it what you would want for yourself? Was it personal or general? Was there more talk about celebration or grief? Did the person officiating even know the deceased?
Most people upon leaving a funeral that is full of platitudes and only vaguely focused on the deceased, will feel or express a sense of dissatisfaction over the lack of meaning and value that they were hoping to receive from the service. After all, a service is a very important part of beginning the rough road through grief. Gathering together is a wonderful thing, but if the gathering itself isn’t designed to shepherd you within the loss, then why bother going?
Throughout our society there seems to be a pervasive and general fear of facing death.
I remember my father, a funeral director with O’Connor for over 25 years, coming home and telling me how frustrated he was with the term, “Celebration of life”. He said, “at it’s core is the desire to avoid the death that ‘s taken place. I’m not saying that celebrating a life is a bad thing, but it has to be coupled with grieving the death.” (isn’t he soo wise?)
After all, the funeral isn’t really for the deceased – it’s for the people who are now facing life without this person around to love & guide them. It’s for the people who are going to notice the absence, it’s for the people who felt compelled to attend the service. It’s for you.
So, here’s what we can begin to do about this.
– Talk to our loved ones ahead of time. If you are thinking of planning your own funeral, talk to your spouse or your children, the people who will need this service the most. See what they would like to do and make some plans together. Turn it into something special and unique – this can honestly be one of the greatest gifts you give them.
On the other hand, if you are thinking of broaching this topic with your parents or your dear sweet aunt, I would encourage you to attend the “Plan Well . . . Live Well” talk that our President & CEO, Neil O’Connor, will be presenting next week. Click here for more information. This is a tricky and often very emotional conversation to have, but our families back us up when we say, it is better to have this conversation than to wish that you had.
– Make a list of your life. Long or short, write down what you would like high-lighted at your own funeral service. What parts of your life are you the most proud about? What life lessons would you want your loved ones to hear from you? Perhaps there’s a Bible verse, a favorite quote, or some other token you’d like people to remember you by. No one knows you better than you!
– Select a mortuary. Plan some things ahead of time, maybe even fund your funeral so your children won’t have to worry about the money. Here are the 3 questions we think you should be asking as you consider a provider.
– How will you take care of me? Of my family?
– Why should I trust you?
– What makes you different?
We want to bring meaning and value back into the funeral service. We want you to leave funeral services glad that you attended.We want you to leave feeling like there was no better way to spend your afternoon.